UK prime ministerial candidate Andrea Leadsom has slated a Times article as "truly appalling" after receiving backlash for suggesting in her own words that being a mother means she has a “very real stake in the country's future” over her childless rival Theresa May.
The Times published the article this morning (9 July), hitting home how personal the candidate is prepared to make the Tory leadership contest after she commented the home secretary must be “really sad” not to have children.
Leadsom told the Times newspaper: "I am sure she will be really sad she doesn't have children so I don't want this to be 'Andrea has children, Theresa hasn't' because I think that would be really horrible.
"But genuinely I feel being a mum means you have a very real stake in the future of our country, a tangible stake. She possibly has nieces, nephews, lots of people. But I have children who are going to have children who will directly be a part of what happens next."
Leadsom took to Twitter to condemn the Times article as "truly appalling" and "the exact opposite of what I said".
Truly appalling and the exact opposite of what I said. I am disgusted. https://t.co/DPFzjNmKie
— Andrea Leadsom MP (@andrealeadsom) July 8, 2016
This morning Leadsom made a televised statement stating she had made clear that the issue of her motherhood should not be a feature of the campaign. "I want to be crystal clear that everyone has an equal stake in our society and in the future of our country," she said. The Times defended its story with the release of an audio recording of the Leadsom interview. The comments sparked a row among politicians and Twitter users, with Lawmaker Alan Duncan calling Leadsom's comments "vile", while leader of the Green party Natalie Bennett linked her comments to 1950s politics.
Andrea #Leadsom apparently thinks the c, 20% of women who won't have children are second-class citizens. Tories steering back to 1950s? — Natalie Bennett (@natalieben) July 9, 2016
May made no direct comment on Leadsom's interview but referenced a clean campaign pledge she launched on Friday to ensure campaigning "stays within the acceptable limits of political debate".
— Theresa May (@TheresaMay2016) July 9, 2016